May 19th, 2010
From my friend Toni:
Please bear with me for this. This is a personal plea.
When Katrina hit, so many people lost so much, it was overwhelming. We made the news, constantly. We watched as FEMA responded so ineptly, that a week to a week-and-a-half out, there still wasn’t help in critical areas.
What you may not know about is that I was one of the few bloggers who had connectivity during the hurricane itself, and the aftermath. Because Carl (my husband) had managed to rig up my computer to a generator, I was able to blog and get the word out that the situation was much much worse than was being reported by the national news sources. I wasn’t the only one, but I was one of the few. My broadcasts were picked up by an NBC affiliate, which then syndicated them around the world.
People wrote to me, to ask me what I needed. In the days immediately following Katrina, as many of you remember, there were simply no goods on the shelves to buy. There was no help to speak of. Carl and I personally went into areas in New Orleans, Metairie, Covington, and Harahan to shelters where we found they were out of water, food, diapers, and personal hygiene items. We also went into the LSU triage area where they had zero– and I mean *zero*–supplies left, and 300 more people being bussed in at that moment. We scrambled to find things like thermometers, and bandage supplies. Carl built them shelves so they could get the supplies up off the floor.
But where did those supplies come from? Let me tell you — it came from friends on the internet.
I put out a call to people on the internet to ask for things we couldn’t find. All of the above items, and more. I expected maybe one or two boxes from dear friends would show up. Maybe. After all, everyone assumed FEMA or the Red Cross were going to take care of us, and they had donated. Well, we all know how that went.
You know what happened? I heard the mail truck backing up to my door. He’s never backed down my driveway, so I knew something was up. The *entire* mail truck was full of boxes of supplies that people had sent–some from as far away as England–and that was only the first load. Every day, he kept coming, and every day, the supplies poured in. We processed over 2000 boxes here at our house until the following week, when the shelters finally started getting help from FEMA and the Red Cross. We housed a doctor and a nurse who’d dropped everything they had to come and help.
Everything they had. That doctor worked 20 hour shifts, for three weeks. I don’t know how that man did it, but he pushed himself hard, for free, because that’s what he does–he’s a trauma surgeon and he dropped his practice to come help.
He is from Nashville.
Look, I know we have all seen terrible things happen all over the world. It’s hard to know what to do and the knee jerk reaction is to give a little bit and forget about it. Well, these people didn’t forget about us. They came. They gave. Thousands of boxes. At one point, a huge box truck backed up into our driveway, sent by an amazing group in Chicago, with another two thousand boxes of supplies. We brought these supplies into shelters where the elderly were sleeping on gym floors in 95+ degree temperatures. Where little kids had nothing to eat and most of the families had nowhere to go.
Right now, Nashville is flooded and hurting and they have gotten maybe fifteen minutes of national coverage. It’s offensive and insane that people who are clearly trying to help themselves should be ignored.
I have researched charities, and I have found one where 100% of the proceeds go directly to flood relief. The families who are affected can apply for grants for everything from trash bags for clean-up to fans to dry out their homes to food and money to help them find a place to stay until the water recedes and they can begin clean-up in earnest. 100% people. You just don’t get any better than that.
This unit is an emergency unit which is activated by the governor of Tennessee (and is paid for as a part of their governmental expenses, so it doesn’t require one penny of donated money to operate). They are annually audited by outside CPAs to confirm they are handling the money correctly.
So I am asking, this once, for you to give. I won’t make a habit of this, but I cannot sit quietly by and hope that Louisiana does itself proud and gives back to the people who gave so much to us.
Please, consider giving. Any gift, any size, will help. We’re pledging $1000.00. We’re asking you to pledge at least $5. Or match us. Or beat us.
Here’s the link: http://www.cfmt.org/floodrelief/
I hope you will consider this; I hope you’ll organize donations at your place of business, or with friends and family. I hope you’ll send this letter on, so that these people will know they are not forgotten.
Toni McGee Causey